The unregulated trade of illegal websites set up in the US and selling potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs to international consumers has taken a firm root, with India as a major supplier.
Pharmacies in Surat have become easy targets, with many peddlers having been lured into the business after tying the knot with them.
In 2016 alone, more than 500 kg of tablets (pharmaceutical drugs) were seized by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
The grassroots network of agents supplying these drugs has been gaining strength and the emergence of illegal websites is alarming for regulatory agencies in India.
How The Illegal Pharma Business Works
“Illegal online pharmacies take orders from customers, then obtaining medications from legitimate or illegitimate sources to dispatch them via mail & courier to consumers worldwide”
These online pharmacies transmit orders from paying customers to agents in India, who then procure the medications from either legitimate or illegitimate sources before dispatching them to customers by mail and courier.
It has been indicated by NCB officials that the suspected destinations of all the busted consignments were in the US and Europe.
In most cases, post office services are used for the shipment of such parcels to other destinations.
The Illegal Trade Is Also Hurting Indian Consumers
“Pharmaceutical products, including OTC drugs can be just as addictive as banned substances, posing a serious health risk”
What is more concerning is the rise in consumption and abuse of these pharma drugs in India, particularly in the northwest and northeast regions of the country.
There is also a misconception that pharma drugs are less harmful than hard drugs like cocaine or heroin. However, pharmaceutical products, including OTC drugs can be just as addictive, posing a serious health risk.
The most vulnerable groups include the youth in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Punjab, Goa, and the North-Eastern states, who succumb to peer pressure and try to experiment with ‘legal’ drugs.
To make matters worse, the concerned authorities claim that many schools and colleges are reluctant to allow them to conduct drugs abuse awareness programs with the help of NGOs.
As is evident from decades of research across the world, the abuse of so called ‘legal’ drugs or pharmaceuticals can be far more devastating than traditional addiction.
This is because of the lower perceived risk, but a very real danger of addiction, overdose and death.
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